Afghan Girl Grads, Books as a gateway for Parent/Child conversations, & Book Highlight #4 8Jan2016

A day of pride for Afghan girl grads amid growing threats


It was a very special day for the Zabuli Education Center, located about 100 miles north of Kabul. For the first time, girls in that village graduated from high school. Special correspondent Beth Murphy of the Ground Truth Project reports on the hopes and challenges for students and educators there.

Read More | Razia’s Ray of Hope by Elizabeth Suneby 2014 Awardee

Can The Smithsonian Save The U.S. Postal Service From Obsolescence In The Age Of Facebook?


Kadir Nelson painted the original artwork for the Joe DiMaggio baseball all-stars stamp released in 2012. His small panel painting is

currently on view at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, part of an exhibition of several dozen artworks relating to the history

of New York.

Read More | Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson 2012 Awardee | The Village That Vanished written by Ann Grifalconi and illustrated by Kadir Nelson 2003 Awardee

Author Katherine Paterson Shares the Importantce of Reading at Vermont Humanities Council Event


Katherine Paterson’s talk, “Reading for the Life of the World,” is part of the Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays lecture

series and is free and open to the public.

Read More | The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson 2003 Awardee |
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson 1979 Awardee

Wisconsin parents worry book about a girl defying the Taliban will indoctrinate their kids into Islam


Third-graders are reading “Nasreen’s Secret School,” by Jeanette Winter, which depicts an Afghan girl living in fear of Muslim

religious fundamentalists who are destroying books and preventing girls from going to school.

Superintendent David Gray said the book, which is widely read among schoolchildren but has generated controversy elsewhere, was

assigned in all district schools this fall as part of the “Engage New York” curriculum intended to boost low test scores.

Read More | Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter 2010 Awardee

Books add perspective to current events


There are plenty of topics from which we can choose if we’re hoping to talk with our kids about the issues facing the world today.

Poverty, war, immigration, homelessness, refugees — where do we begin with all of this when the topics can be so heavy and deep? With

books, of course.

“Number the Stars,” by Lois Lowry. Set in Denmark during the Nazi occupation in World War II, “Number the Stars” follows 10-year-old

Annemarie as she learns about love and courage while helping her best friend’s family.

This book shows the power of goodness to overcome evil and that goodness doesn’t have to come in great, big packages. The bravery of

one or two people, unwilling to be cowed by enormous fear, can change the fate of a generation.

“Esperanza Rising,” by Pam Munoz Ryan. America has a rich history of being a place of refuge and opportunity for immigrants, so

learning about the path of immigrants is both eye-opening and necessary. “Esperanza Rising” paints a sincere, beautiful picture of

what that path might have actually looked like.

“A Long Walk to Water,” by Linda Sue Park. Set in Sudan, “A Long Walk to Water” tells the true story of two different children during

two different times. Salva and Nya’s stories intersect with beauty and hope in the end, reminding readers that in order to make a

difference, one need only find a place desperate for change. Parents and kids will have a chance to imagine the millions of people who

are on journeys similar to these all over the world right now.

Read More | Number the Stars by Lois Lowry 1990 Awardee
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan 2001 Awardee
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park 2011 Awardee

San Antonio Current Events for December 15


Naomi Shihab Nye: Award-winning local poet, author and editor Naomi Shihab Nye celebrates the release of her new Wings Press book

devoted to her cherished work “Famous,” a charmingly ironic poem that has loaned itself to everything from graduation cards and

speeches to creative writing exercises and standardized tests. Free, 4-7pm, Kathleen Sommers Boutique, 2417 N. Main Ave., (210) 732-


Read More | Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye 1998 Awardee |
Sitti’s Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye 1995 Awardee

Cool Brains! for cool kids reading by Jacqueline Woodson


On Sunday, January 24, Cool Brains! Inprint Readings for Young People presents Jacqueline Wood at 3:00 p.m. at Johnston Middle School,

Houston, TX. Jacqueline Woodson is an award-winning author and the U.S. Young People’s Poet Laureate. She will read from her books,

talk about her writing, and answer questions from the audience.

Read More | From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson 1996 Awardee
I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson 1995 Awardee
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson 2013 Awardee

San Jose Mercury News: Los Gatos: Author’s Visit


Author Francisco Jimenez was so well-received by Los Gatos High School students when he came to speak last month that he’s going to be

invited back next year. During his Los Gatos visit, Jimenez said his parents had no choice but to work in the fields because they

couldn’t read or write. ‘All work is noble,’ he said, ‘but education gives you choices.

Read More | The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child by Francisco Jimenez 1998 Awardee

Flashback Friday: Esperanza Rising


Some may think that children’s books and historical fiction wouldn’t blend well. However, it’s been proven that these two genres

complement each other really well in Pam Munoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising, which was published by Scholastic in 2000.

Read More | Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan 2001 Awardee

Bibliophiles Review: Inside Out and Back Again


Today we’re cracking into a very special historical fiction novel called Inside Out and Back Again, by Thannha Lai. Everyone has

experienced being new; even though Hà’s alienation and otherness are not something everyone may know first hand. Thanhha Lai, the

author, again must have been drawing on her own experiences. She, too, was displaced from Vietnam to the southern United States. She

writes with great skill about how Hà is bullied and how she reacts to her bully.

Read More | Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai 2012 Awardee

Special Feature

Book Highlight: Part 4

The fourth installment of our eight part series on the 2015 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Ceremony features the introduction given by Beth McGowan for Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914, written by John Hendrix and published by Henry Abrams Books for young readers, named an Honor Book in the Books for Younger Children.


Introduction by Beth McGowan, Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards Committee member

Our children are being taught through the media that war is an exciting adventure in which killing and dying are easy clean and morally right because the other side is evil. As this is fantasy, children don’t learn about the awful physical realities of war: nor about the humanity of others. Without a counter narrative, that false vision of war will remain hegemonic. So sensitive adults must teach children EARLY about war and its realities. But how, how do we teach the realities of war to young children without terrifying them and leaving them hopeless and frightened?


One way of accomplishing this task is to read to John Hendrix’s Shooting at the Stars: the Christmas Truce of 1914 published by Henry Abrams Books for young readers. Hendrix introduces the war briefly in front matter and then moves into his narrative, told in the form of a letter from Charlie, a young British man fighting in the trenches, to his mother. The letter format allows the reader to share an intimate sense of what trench warfare meant, describing the mud, the food, the damp and the cold: while the illustrations show us the trenches and no man’s land. When Charlie speaks to his mother of the Christmas truce, we understand how courageous it was for German soldiers to initiate a truce, how courageous it was of the English to accept one. We feel amazed that the men on each side reached out to each other to stop the killing, share food, bury the dead, and play a game of soccer. The illustrations show how the blighted landscape of war becomes less bleak when lit by the good will truce represented in delicate Christmas trees. The lovely landscape of basic human contact is interrupted by bureaucratic authority: a general who tells the men to get back to fighting. And the healing images of the truce contrast starkly to the portrait of the general who orders the soldiers back to fighting. As one of my colleagues remarked, looking at that portrait, one almost feels the spit fly off the page. But the men, though they obey the general, refuse to shoot at the men with whom they have just shared a moment, but shoot only at the stars – thus the title.

The book leaves us sorrowful, upset. We wish as the men did, that they did not have to go back to fighting. We wish as they did, that they could just go home. We want it all to stop. And we need our children to feel this sorrow, this upset, if war is to become a thing of the past. For all these reasons, we are happy to honor John Hendrix and Abrams Books for young readers for the book Shooting at the Stars.


Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually acknowledges books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the Award address themes of topics that engage children in thinking about peace, justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children.

Click here to read more about the 2015 Awards.

This concludes our fourth installment of the eight part series of the 2015 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Winners and Honorees.

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